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Kirk Thompson of Kalapana on shaping the music scene in the 1970s

The founding members of Kalapana, from left to right, Kirk Thompson, Bryant "Mackey" Feary, Jr., Carl James "Malani" Bilyeu, and David John (DJ) Pratt
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The founding members of Kalapana, from left to right, Kirk Thompson, Bryant "Mackey" Feary, Jr., Carl James "Malani" Bilyeu, and David John (DJ) Pratt

By the time Kalapana released their first album in 1975, they had a solid fan base. A year later, their second album hit the National Billboard chart at No. 197, ahead of the Temptations and Tower of Power. We hear from Kirk Thompson, the only surviving original member of Kalapana. Thompson was a founding member with singer/guitarists Mackey Feary, DJ Pratt, and Malani Bilyeu.

Over the years, Thompson has played with Hawaiʻi’s top musicians, and worked closely with music icon Don Ho and with Tom Moffatt, the promoter who introduced rock and contemporary pop to Hawaiʻi. But that was later. Thompson says in Hawaiʻi, before the 1970s, local musicians were treated like second-class citizens.

After years of wrangling over rights, that iconic first Kalapana album, is back in black vinyl at Aloha Got Soul, AGS, the local specialty records dealer. Should be out next month. Ask Roger Bong, the proprietor. Bong, by the way, just started a radio show here Mauka to Makai, Sundays at 4 p.m. on HPR 1.

This interview aired on The Aloha Friday Conversation on Feb. 25, 2022. The Conversation airs weekdays at 11 a.m. on HPR-1.

Noe Tanigawa covered art, culture and ideas for two decades at Hawaiʻi Public Radio.
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